Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Most Popular Kid in Middle School

A few weeks ago we had our annual Veterans Day Assembly at The School. Every year we do a very impressive assembly honoring our Veterans, many of whom are parents, teachers, and support staff at The School. We live in a military community so Veterans Day is a very big deal.

We have the band play a patriotic medley, the JROTC color guard comes over from the high school to present the colors, we have a guest speaker from the community, and we have soldiers from the local military installation come as well. It's moving, it's patriotic, the kids get into it, and usually the guidance department is overwhelmed with kids who get teary eyed about the whole thing. Those of us on the committee that puts it together stress out a bit but usually every thing goes as planned,


Every year we ask the soldiers if they would recite The Soldier's Creed to open up the assembly. Every year they agree. Sometimes they do it as a group, but lately they have given the honor to the lowest ranking guy there. This kid, because that's what he is, has to stand up in front of 1,000 kids and recite The Soldiers Creed, and unfortunately, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. We always ask if they need a copy of the words, because we have one handy, and every year they decline.

This year Corporal Creed stood up, began the Creed, and halfway through, he freezes. His mind goes blank. He pauses. He pauses some more. There is silent, dead space throughout the gym. You could hear a pin drop as he struggles for the words.

"Oh s$&?," he finally says. Into the microphone.

The kids go wild. They cheer! They applaud! And Cpl. Creed remembers the words and finishes the Creed and sits down.

I look over at The Principal and she is trying very hard not to smile, so that was a good thing. After that, the rest of the Assembly went off without a hitch, until of course the emcee introduces all our guests, including Cpl. Creed.

Guess who got the largest round of applause?

After the assembly Mrs. Eagle and I were shaking hands with our visitors and thanking them for coming. When we got to Cpl. Creed, I mentioned that he was the most popular kid in middle school. He looked embarrassed, but agreed.

Interestingly enough, that bit of levity may have done some good. Guidance reported no crying kids for the first time ever.

The story doesn't end there.

The following week, The Principal was getting ready to do our afternoon announcements and said she had a special announcement. Onto the loud speaker comes Cpl. Creed! He aplogized for what he had said at the ceremony and said he wanted to do it correctly this time. And he did. And better yet, the kids, in each and every room, gave him a huge round of applause. I wish they could have seen him as I heard that he, and the rest of the soldiers that were there with him, came in their dress uniforms and were quite a impressive.

And if that wasn't enough, he, and the rest of the guys were back that Friday evening for the Fall Festival where they set up a display and were giving the kids samples of MRE's.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dog and Pony Show

There just are not enough hours in the day this year.

As part of the new STEM initiative in our district, we have to do at least four STEM challenges per year. The challenges have a lot of value as they are really good exercises in problem-solving learning. They are, however, completely built from scratch and are a lot of work, both in creating them, having the kids do them, and then grading them. We worked for about two months to get the last one designed and created, even including meeting over fall break.

Anyhow in the midst of all this (and the regular teaching stuff we do) we were informed that the school district was sponsoring a STEM open house and we were supposed to put together an exhibit for the big event. It was at the local high school that our school feeds into and would feature the schools on our side of town - elementary, us, and the high school.

Oh yeah. One more thing to do.

So we spent several weeks on this, getting the student presenters picked out, coached and trained. Mr. Math had his wife, who is working as a sub, put together three science fair boards for our exhibit which was HUGE as we were swamped with parent meetings and some of us were also working on the Veterans Day Assembly that, of course, was scheduled for the morning after our big event. We had a lab for the visitors to do, plus the kids brought their engineering notebooks to show off. Is it any wonder that we were all getting frazzled and some of us hadn't seen our spouses or family for supper for weeks as we've been so busy doing all our regular teaching stuff and then THIS?


When the evening finally arrived, the kids were great. They got there on time - hey, free pizza - were dressed nicely, and were well-spoken. The crowd, which was huge, seemed to really enjoy it and our Director of Schools gave us a thumbs up.

The really amazing thing is that Mrs, Standard, who is now in charge of STEM, actually said we did a good job. This from a woman who never, ever can say anything nice about anything we do. It's to the point that we hate to see her show up anywhere because we know it will be nothing but criticism and complaints. We couldn't believe it. (She did scare our kids when she showed up to watch them practice. They wanted to know who the mean, grumpy lady was.)

So the dog and pony show is done. Let us hope there isn't another one for a few more years.